Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unexpected projects and blessings

Summer is a time for outdoor projects, at least around our house. We're still very much in the settling in phase with regards to landscaping. Our budget only allows for one major project a year, and hardscaping (patios, retaining walls,etc.) must be done before my favorite part of installing plants can begin. This means that I've had about three years to dream and plan for some spaces, while watching the natural vegetation (i.e. weeds) take over certain spots.

Last summer, the major project was buildng two retaining walls out front to make a more usable terraced space for gardening and perhaps a fire pit/chimena. This summer's project was a large patio under the deck out front, using concrete pavers and gravel inbetween to blend with the gravel driveway that it will intersect with. Then, we were unexpectedly blessed with some gifted flagstone, but not enough to do the entire patio area. We were considering purchasing more to fill in the entire area, but then along came a few storms...

We lost several shingles in these storms, called a roofer recommended by a trusted friend, and ended up being told we needed to replace the roof as we would lose more shingles in the next big storm. Consequently, this has put the patio project on hold, since we haven't heard back from our insurance company about what they see as reasonable. So, we're in a holding pattern, and now debating whether we go with a metal roof or asphalt shingles again. (Metal would be more environmentally friendly and more wind-resistant and cheaper in the long run, but the asphalt shingles would be cheaper now.) Since we'll have to have the roof redone, we're also considering getting estimates on covering the front deck in the process. We use the deck much less than we'd like in the summer because our house is southern facing (a huge plus in the winter with snow melt, but bakes in the summer). All this is totally unexpected, but we think we have enough in the house budget to make it happen. If we end up renting a room upstairs in the fall, then that additional income would help to make this project more affordable.

So, that blessing of gifted flagstone? We're planning to construct a smaller patio now behind the kitchen. We'll use the same materials, but it'll cost significantly less since we'll need much smaller amounts of gravel and sand. It will be a dry-laid patio, to allow for drainage, and I'll plant camomille and creeping jenny begween the stones to help the patio blend more with the surrounding gardens. Maybe next summer's project will be the patio under the deck.

In the meantime, we'll do what we can to reduce our expenses and "put our heads down" to make the roofing thing happen. I'd love to see the front deck covered, but we'll just have to see about the cost there. Do you have thoughts on a metal roof, or experience with one?

What about you? What summer projects do you have planned? Has an unexpected expense become a blessing in disguise for you? I'd love to hear from you! (And I promise to post more frequently this summer!)